Mario Sundar

LinkedIn's 2nd PR hire. These are my thoughts on products, public relations, and startups.

Why the Social Media Press Release is an Oxymoron!

So what’s the brouhahah all about this time. I miss attending an event and exciting stuff happens at the event. You guys may remember the event I was supposed to attend last week — Third Thursday, run by Mike Manuel and Chris Heuer.

Apparently, Chris had a rountable discussion going and Stowe Boyd took exception to their definition of what’s called a “social media press release”. Here’s Stowe:

For those who have missed the idea, a social media press release is supposed to be a webbish/bloggish version of old timey press releases. These will incorporate elements of the now commonplance blog motif: links, tags, comments, and trackbacks, for example.

This all begs the question (which I raised early on in the evening): Why not just use blogs? Why do we need these so-called “social” press releases?

Scoble chimes in:

He’s right. I hate that idea too. Just give us a damn demo of your product and tell us about it.

Well, Shel Holtz who was on the panel retaliates:

Most people I talk to outside of my work (neighbors, family, people I see at my religious institution) don’t even read blogs, no less understand what RSS is. At the Third Thursday event, Chris Heuer asked who among the attendees didn’t know what RSS was. The bartender raised his hand.

The numbers are higher among journalists, but still low overall. To suggest that a company can officially, fairly, and consistently deliver the message concurrently to all audiences by posting it to a blog is, frankly, absurd.

My Take – the reinvention of PR: Well, I respect all of the above bloggers, but c’mon guys let’s take a chill pill now, shall we? To me, it seems like all this debate has an undercurrent of the “Survival of the Publicists” theme as outlined by Shel & Scoble in Naked Conversations. The Social Media Press Release seems to be a step in reinventing the Public Relations Universe. I get it.

However, if PR is “The art of managing communication between an organization and its key publics to build, manage and sustain a positive image.”, while Social Media is defined as “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other”, many of which are negative!!!

What does a “social media press release” mean? Is that still the same old press release in the garb of genuine social media generated by people. And, that’s where Stowe Boyd, in my opinion, takes umbrage.

Holtz in his summary, makes a ton of valid points, like why you can’t use blogs as press releases and their relative importance. However, one of the points he kept reiterating is that non-PR guys shouldn’t meddle w/ PR affairs:

To insist that the profession use a tool one way or another—or to abandon it altogether—is no different than me telling NASA engineers which tools to use to build their next-generation spacecraft.

Point taken. However, applying lipstick to a press release doesn’t make it a “social media press release”. And, that’s just my humble opinion.

Filed under: Social PR

7 Responses

  1. Let the PR people use whatever tools they want and call it a Blue Plate Special for all I care. Their job is to communicate with journalists and influencers. Any interactive template they want to use to better act as a guide to the conversations, interviews, events, statistics, etc…to save time, is great.

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  2. Hi Mario,

    Hmmm…I have mixed feelings on this one. I do think it is important to have PR somewhat involved with what is being said about the company, largely because there is the potential for damage to a company where a blogger goes “wild”.

    At the same time, I do think that PR should realize that a community/customer/company evangelist is not going to be comfortable with “PR-speak” as the voice of the company & a fair amount of latitude should be given to the folks running the blog and/or running forums.

    I think that the Marriott blog has done a good job so far in mixing the two (there’s obviously more than one person doing it). The recenly launched Geni.com is also doing pretty well w/engaging the folks that go to the blog.

    Disclaimer: I know some of the folks at Geni, including the CEO (David Sacks).

    One problem that I do see, one that I am not sure if it can be resolved, is that folks are always hyping “blog strategy”. Blog strategy, IMHO, is totally contrary to many of the concepts found in books like The Cluetrain Manifesto. The internet is a fairly fluid environment & one has to change their strategy at a moment’s notice….

    ““the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other”, many of which are negative!!!”

    Excellent point. My question is how would I, as a person that has an evangelism role, turn that negative experience/perception around?

    Nice post..I like it:) You’ve made me think of a few things….

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  3. shel israel says:

    If you ask me, (and I’m grateful that know one has, actually), the social media press release is very much like lipstick on a chicken. No matter how hard you try to make it pretty it is still a chicken.

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  4. Hi Shel,

    “No matter how hard you try to make it pretty it is still a chicken.”

    Now that is one of the better comments I’ve seen in a bit.

    Hi Mario,
    Should we call it “Sr” against “Pr”? In other words, Social Relations vs. Public Relations? I think there’s a very different beast in the two…

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  5. Mario Sundar says:

    Mario,
    I know they can call it anything, but a Social Media Press Release, is in my opinion ambiguous and misleading, hence the objection.

    Damon,
    PR may still be needed for the larger announcements, but my take is it’d be beneficial for the company to hire PR specialists w/ blogging experience, cos you’d need them to have blogging skills as well.

    Shel,
    No one has asked since they must be waiting to hear your take via your blog. I love the “lipstick on a chicken” analogy though!

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  6. Hi Mario,

    “PR may still be needed for the larger announcements, but my take is it’d be beneficial for the company to hire PR specialists w/ blogging experience, cos you’d need them to have blogging skills as well.”

    One possible solution!

    I actually reported to the VP of Communications when I worked at PayPal in the early days. I would consult with him if I thought I had to be careful about something that was going on and/or if it was something we could/had to respond to (It was a different ballgame w/a financial services company).

    Like

  7. […] you heard of Social Media Press Releases? I heard they are […]

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